AUSTIN — After hours of emotional debate, the Republican-led Texas House voted 100-47 on Monday night to give preliminary approval to legislation that would ban so-called sanctuary cities that critics contend are havens for illegal immigrants.
Latino lawmakers charged that the bill - one of Gov. Rick Perry's top priorities - would lead to racial profiling and force millions of Texas Hispanics to "live in fear."
Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, who represents a heavily Hispanic district, called the bill "one of the most overtly racist pieces of legislation I've seen."
Supporters tout the bill by Rep. Burt Solomons, R-Carrollton, as a powerful weapon against illegal immigration. Solomons described the measure as "a good bill."
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Republicans used their two-thirds majority to cut off debate by calling the "previous question," blocking consideration of pending amendments. Democrats objected that the action set a dangerous precedent and stifled dissent.
The bill has drawn has drawn strong opposition from Hispanics as well as law enforcement groups. who say it will impose an added burden to already overworked police departments.
Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief has also urged lawmakers to oppose the bill, saying it would slap Fort Worth and other Texas cities with an :"unfunded mandate" to enforce federal immigration laws and would open the door to costly litigation against cities.
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